CHAPTER 21 | judgement day

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📎A/N. Hello my lovelies... thanks for all your feedback so far... it's been interesting to see the pendulum swing and comments made about Ethan are the exact same ones now being leveled at Sydney... just goes to prove no one is perfect and we all make silly decisions at least once in our lives.

Hope you enjoy this chapter... if you do, don't forget to push that little star :-)

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"You!"

Sydney felt ill. The way in which he said the simple word held a powerful accusation.  One that she knew she was guilty of.

Ethan was staring wide-eyed at her, almost through her.  His expression was slack, mouth hung slightly open as his faced drained of all colour. She was sure that he had stopped breathing from the rigid stance he had frozen in. It was obvious that she was the last person Ethan had expected to see. 

For her part, Sydney was a deer caught in headlights.  She was unable to move from the absolute shock of seeing him. Before her brain could engage, a ruckus on the other side of the gym had everyone swivelling their heads to see what was going on.  Everyone that is, except her and Ethan.

"Jeremy's having another seizure." Bernie sprung into action. As he pushed passed Ethan, he called over his shoulder, "Stay with Walter."

Sydney continued to meet Ethan's gaze as she watched his shock melt.

"What the hell are you doing here?" he demanded as his surprise morphed into anger.

At first, she thought her voice would fail her.  Her first attempt at speech only emitted a small squeaking sound.  Sydney cleared her throat and tried again. "Me? They said you didn't visit in the mornings." Her voice came out strained as she struggled to justify her presence. 

This was her worst nightmare.  Part of her knew that being here ‑ pushing herself into Walter's life ‑ was far from normal.  The situation had been a ticking time bomb the moment she stepped foot through the hospital doors.

Ethan's eyes grew stormy as they drilled through her. She recoiled; it felt as if he had physically burnt her skin. His lips curled with bitter contempt and his nostrils flared.  Sydney cringed knowing the tirade that was about to rain down on her with the force of an avalanche.  In all honesty, it was justified.  She braced herself.

Whatever he was about to say died on his lips as he glanced to his right.  His angry expression instantly replaced by a flash of fear tinged with a hint of panic.

Sydney glanced back at the direction his had taken.  A sinking feeling overtook her as she was hit with the realisation that Walter's happy expression had taken on one of confusion.  His eyes darted uncertainly between Ethan and herself.  The smile that had adorned his face at seeing his brother was now caught between a frown and indecision. 

They couldn't do this.  Not here.  Not now.

With as much effort as she could muster, she plastered an encouraging smile on her face to alleviate Walter's concern, and patted him on the leg.

"Walter and I are working out," she said in an even and bright tone as if reassuring a child. "I didn't realise you'd be visiting this morning."

Sydney looked over at Ethan, silently imploring him to follow suit and not upset his brother.

It was taking a considerable amount of effort to reign in his temper.  His inhale was laboured as he schooled his features and briefly closed his eyes.  As he opened them again, his face mimicked her false smile.  She noticed, however, his fists were still clenched firmly by his side. "I bet you didn't," he said in a fake cheerful tone.

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